SECULARISM AND EQUALITY OF RELIGIONS

Is there need for separation of church and state?

Definitely yes.

Why?

If you want the ability to freely practice your beliefs in private, then the public sphere must remain secular. This makes it so one religion isn’t privileged above another.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to express your beliefs via your dress or your opinions (with some limitations*) in public.

*laws against hate speech and inciting others to violence

However, it does mean that you can’t discriminate against others for their beliefs and vice versa. Examples of this would be a shop owner denying service to someone because they’re wearing a religious symbol or profess a particular belief (like anti-abortion or pro lgbtq marriage).

Unfortunately, the United States has taken a turn towards Christian dominance in the secular sphere. For those who are Christian or ambivalent, this can be easily overlooked. For those of us who are of a different religion or non-religions, it can at times be painfully obvious.

The question then becomes, with such Christian privilege in place, what is to be done?

First, religious freedom needs to be respected. However, this doesn’t mean one religion at the expense of others. All religious (and non-religious) viewpoints need to have equal representation and voice.

You can be diplomatic about it. That is you can seek to create bonds of friendship with people from different religions. This can in turn humanize everyone and allow for common community goals. But what if other people don’t want to be friends? What if they want to suppress your voice?

If you can’t beat them, should you join them?

The club I’m apart of on my university campus hosted the guest speaker Lucien Greaves, founder of the Satanic Temple. When people think of the Satanic Temple they think of Satan worshippers, demonic rituals, and blood orgies. However, the Satanic Temple does not profess to believe in a personal Satan, nor is their goal to be purely a religion. Rather, they aim to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will”.

Lucien Greaves Talk 10-13-17

Via the vehicle of religion, the Satanic Temple attempts expose the hypocrisies surrounding freedom of religion in the United States. When the Oklahoma Courthouse allowed the installation of a monument of the Ten Commandments, the Satanic Temple pushed to allow an installation of their goat-headed deity Baphomet.

If religion is going to creep into the public sphere, then the Satanic Temple maintains that it must be equal in representation. This serves as a red flag to others that if they are uncomfortable with Satanic prayers at government council meetings or Baphomet statues on public property, then how do the rest of us feel when we see “In God We Trust” on our currency, when the Ten Commandments are held up as a foundation for our legal system, and when there is constant reference to the Bible and Christ in the political sphere.

Some criticize the satirical methods of the Satanic Temple as disrespectful to “real” religions. However, I think their combative ways are necessary to make a needed statement against the most entrenched parts of Christian privilege. In certain instances, this may be the best and only way to expose the hypocrisy surrounding freedom of religion in our nation.

Conclusion

Laws need to be founded not on religious beliefs, but on scientific evidence. This is the only way to ensure a system that is based on a common standard of agreement from which religions can be respected.

 

For more information about the club event see:

https://news.hjnews.com/allaccess/usu-student-group-hosting-satanic-temple-speaker/article_1d7dbf77-d237-57af-aff7-dadce4792ae9.html

For more information about the Satanic Temple see:

https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/tenets